Roberto C. Tobar:  Ecology and Art

(This is my picture)




-Main Idea-


            As a very integral part of human life, nature has been regarded with good intentions. Nature’s not always harmonious, however.  It has been abused.  Nature can be chaotic as well, in forms such as tornadoes, hurricanes, exploding volcanoes, snowstorms, etc, all of which could jeopardize human existence. When nature is peaceful, harmony exists, and it represents innocence.  Artistic representations of harmony and innocence both seem to be forms of social protest against exploitation.  However, art can also spark exploitation by commodifying representations of art and using them for economical purposes. The exploitation comes from artists or photographers who create images of art and then sell them to the public and even publish them on the Internet, as well as people who happen to buy or download the images.


            Thesis 1:  Like harmony, innocence is a way to protest organized cruelty against nature.


Even though the economic “progress” has brought many changes to his village, the naturalist poet John Clare still remembers much of the land from his youth and talks about it in his poems. He idealizes his childhood to intensify the perception that creates one’s love for their environment, and will argue about innocence to protest cruelty.  As a “peasant poet”, Clare would watch as the weak community of creatures continues to depend on the strength of the ecosystem.  His conception of a “language that is ever green” helped him refuse anybody’s advice for him to fix his poetry, because he admired his views so much and wasn’t willing to change them. (McKusick 234, 242) “The individual organism is not regarded as valuable for its economic or aesthetic qualities considered in isolation, but for its participation in a larger community of living things” (McKusick 237).


As an environmental advocate, Clare is virtually unprecedented in the extent of his insight into the complex relation between ecological devastation and social injustice. (McKusick quoted, 239)



This forest can show that animals that are adapting to the environment inhabit nature.


Thesis 2:  Art seems to create an economic turmoil, as after the exploitations succeed, many people try to purchase nature’s images to support the exploitations for their own personal use, rather than try to live in nature itself.


Art seems to play a large role in the crisis of ecology.  One should be more mindful of local environments and communities so they can help an “ecologically sustainable, self-reliant society” form.  A successful ecological society should assume the characteristics of a “permaculture”, that is, a system focusing on the harmonious “interrelationship” between humans, plants, animals and Mother Nature.  Once a human gets the desire to control the environment, he is taking the first step towards destroying nature.  “Hyperecological benefits” seem to be limited to residents in Japan, Europe and North America; most everyone else on Earth lives in poverty.  Artists who have been concerned about ecology have to realize that their work contributes to the destruction of nature (Luke 72-74). “The arts have been one of the main engines driving the wasteful ways of modern capitalism” (Luke 72).


Conventionally, consumption is assumed to be the function of humanity’s technological relationship to the environment.  People supposedly manipulate the environment to create objects and processed materials that will satisfy innate needs for material goods and services.  Today, many believe that capitalist corporations are the most appropriate tool for producing these materials. (Luke quoted, 73)




This very image can show us that nature is never safe from exploitation, and anyone can go anywhere they want just to start their sale of nature’s images. 




Thesis 3:  People can enjoy artistic representations of nature as they hang on their living room wall, but not want to support an ecological preservation project to protect nature. 


Concluding Statements

            The main points are that ecology can be looked at and used in different ways.  It can influence poets such as John Clare to tell about their views of the world, or, in the wrong hands, can make a human who is hungry to control the environment tear apart the very Earth.  Either way, ecology is a major part of life and must not be disregarded by the living things around it, or else the earth and all of its inhabitants could suffer, especially this one:




Works Cited:


Luke, Timothy W.  “Art and the Environmental Crisis.” Art Journal, Summer 1992.


McKusick, James C. “‘A language that is ever green’:  The Ecological Vision of John Clare.”  University of Toronto Quarterly, Volume 61, Number 2, Winter 1991/1992.


1st Picture from


2nd Picture courtesy of





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